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Drew Gooden says Wizards coaches used to make up scouting reports to motivate Paul Pierce

Drew Gooden says Wizards coaches used to make up scouting reports to motivate Paul Pierce

NBC Sports Washington's flashback broadcast of Game 3 of the 2015 playoff series between the Wizards and Hawks allowed former Wizards players Drew Gooden and Ramon Sessions to reminisce on what was a memorable season for the franchise.

Game 3 was, of course, the night Paul Pierce hit a game-winning shot and afterwards said 'I called game.' That was the moment most remember about his time in Washington.

But long before that, as Gooden and Sessions recalled, the Wizards coaching staff would use little tricks to keep Pierce, who was 37 years old at the time, fully locked in during the regular season.

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"The first back-to-back that season that we had, Coach [Don Zierden] had the scouting report," Gooden said. "He said 'hey Paul, this late in your career, people don't think you can play back-to-backs. Well, show them you can play back-to-backs.'"

"I remember that. That was lighting fuel right there," Sessions added.

"I think that was fake," Gooden said. "And I think that's why Coach Z was a special coach. He challenged Paul early in the season because he knew we would need him later on."

Pierce, Gooden said, was out to prove people wrong that season and, really, it was his last good year as an NBA player. He played two more seasons for the Clippers, but it was in Washington where he had his last healthy and productive season.

Maybe the Clippers should have used Coach Z's tactics.

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The best game-winning shots and buzzer-beaters in Wizards/Bullets history

The best game-winning shots and buzzer-beaters in Wizards/Bullets history

NBC Sports Washington is airing 'Wizards Greatest Hits,' including Paul Pierce's 'I called game' shot against the Hawks in 2015 (May 7 at 7 p.m.) and John Wall's go-ahead three against the Celtics in 2017 (May 14 at 7 p.m.).

There is nothing greater in the sport of basketball than a game-winning shot and its excitement is barely rivaled in all of sports. You have walk-off homers in baseball, overtime goals in hockey and hail mary's in football; but there is nothing quite like the clock ticking down and everyone knowing it all comes down to one final shot attempt.

In their 59 seasons as a franchise, the Wizards have quite a few memorable game-winning shots and some of them were made by legendary players. Here is a ranking of the best ones in franchise history...

1. Gilbert Arenas vs. Bulls in Game 5 of 2005 playoffs

This one tops the list because, though it isn't the only playoff game-winner in Wizards/Bullets history, it is the only one that occurred in a series they actually won. And it was also central in Arenas' rise to superstardom. He developed a reputation for clutch shots and this one was the biggest of his career.

2. Paul Pierce vs. Hawks in Game 3 of 2015 playoffs

Pierce hit one game-winning shot for the Wizards and it was a big one. He banked it in against the Hawks to win Game 3 and give the Wizards a 2-1 series lead. And afterwards, he delivered one of the greatest quotes in franchise history when asked if he called bank, saying 'I called game.' Pierce would also nearly beat the Hawks at the buzzer in Game 6 before replay overturned the call and lost the Wizards the series.

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3. Dudley Bradley in Game 1 of 1986 playoffs vs. Sixers

This one is probably the most difficult to recreate of any on this list. Even if you are unguarded messing around at your local court, you have to spin and then bank it in. And this one won a playoff game against Charles Barkley and Dr. J. The Bullets, though, would go on to lose the series.

4. John Wall vs. Celtics in Game 6 of the 2017 playoffs

Another amazing shot that happened in a series the Wizards didn't win. And this one was not a buzzer-beater, but a go-ahead shot. The Wizards then had to play defense on a final possession. It was the biggest shot of Wall's career and one that produced some great photos of him standing on the scorers' table celebrating with fans.

5. Gilbert Arenas vs. Bucks in 2007

Arenas was known for his buzzer-beaters and this was one of his best in Washington. He pulled up from long range and sent the Bucks home with a cold-blooded three. There is a famous cutaway shot of Michael Redd smiling in disbelief as he watches Arenas walk away with swagger.

6. Michael Jordan vs. Cavs in 2002

Jordan had a few buzzer-beaters for the Wizards, but none more memorable than this one which had some distinct similarities to 'The Shot' he made over Craig Ehlo. Jordan once again killed the Cavs at the buzzer and made a shot from nearly the same spot on the floor.

7. Jeff Malone vs. Pistons in 1984

This was a regular season game, but ranks highly because of the degree of difficulty. Malone hit a three while jumping out of bounds to lift the Bullets over the 'Bad Boy Pistons' at the Capital Centre.

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How to watch Paul Pierce call 'game' vs. Hawks in 2015 playoffs

How to watch Paul Pierce call 'game' vs. Hawks in 2015 playoffs

Continuing NBC Sports Washington's series of Wizards Greatest Hits, we move on to one of the biggest shots in franchise history. 

When Paul Pierce called "game."

Pierce made countless big shots throughout his 15-year run with the Celtics, but perhaps his most memorable moment came in Washington when he banked in a buzzer-beater against the Hawks in the 2015 Eastern Conference Playoffs. 

The Wizards shocked the 60-win Hawks by winning Game 1 of the series but it cost them star point guard John Wall. He fractured his left wrist and hand and wouldn't return until Game 5. Still, the Wizards had an opportunity to take control of the series entering Game 3 and they were saved by a vintage shot by "The Truth." 

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On Thursday, Wizards fans will have the chance to relive that game (check your channel finder here) along with Game 7 of the 1978 NBA Finals. 

6:00 PM: Wizards Greatest Hits Bullets vs SuperSonics from June 7, 1978 (R)
7:00 PM: Wizards Greatest Hits Wizards vs Hawks from May 9, 2015 (P)
8:00 PM: NBA 2K20 -- WNBA Mode: Connecticut Sun @ Mystics (R)
9:00 PM: NBA 2K20: Los Angeles Lakers @ Wizards (R)

After the Wizards took a 2-1 series lead, the Hawks rattled off three-straight wins to close out the series in six games. Wall returned for the final two showdowns of the series, but he struggled, playing with basically one hand. 

Atlanta then went on to get swept by the Cavaliers in the Conference Finals. If only Wall didn't get hurt in Game 1.

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